LINTHICUM, Md. - Transportation Security Administration officers stopped 26 guns at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport checkpoints in 2017, an increase from the 24 caught in 2016. It contnued a distrubing trend of an increase in the number of firearms travelers have been bringing to the airport during the course of the past several years.
In total, 27 handguns were detected by TSA officers at Maryland airports. TSA officers at Salisbury Regional Airport on the Eastern Shore also detected one firearm at the checkpoint this year. No guns were spotted at the Hagerstown Regional Airport checkpoint in Washington County.
All together, 3,957 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the nation last year, averaging about 11 firearms per day, approximately a 17 percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,391 detected in 2016. Eighty-four percent of the guns caught in 2017 were loaded.
Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane. However, travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow a few simple guidelines.
TSA Firearms Catches at Checkpoints in Airports in the Region
Firearms Caught in 2013
Firearms Caught in 2014
Firearms Caught in 2015
Firearms Caught in 2016
Firearms Caught in 2017
Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2017 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 245; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 211; George Bush Intercontinental at Houston with 142; Denver International with 98; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 115. These same airports were in the top five for guns at checkpoints in 2014, 2015, 2016 and now 2017.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case, next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case. Then the case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter and the airline representative informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun. Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site here.
As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online here.
Firearms Detected at TSA Checkpoints Nationwide
TSA officers continued their overall vigilance in protecting our nation’s transportation systems in 2017, including catching unusual prohibited items at the checkpoints. For more specific information on unusual items, visit the TSA Blog at https://www.tsa.gov/blog for photos and graphics.